Is hyperactivity overrated?

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness:
  • Your child is often moving their hands and feet or squirms in their chair;
  • They often get up in situations where they are supposed to stay sitting;
  • They run or climb excessively in inappropriate situations;
  • They have trouble keeping quiet when they should;
  • They have intense reactions;
  • They have difficulty waiting for their turn;
  • They often interrupt or impose their presence to others.

Tips from our specialist

A child who always feels the need to move and acts impulsively has a high level of energy he is struggling to manage and channel. As a parent, you can give him the tools to help him regain consciousness of his body and to help him focus and get back to the present. You can use a magic bag on his neck and legs for example, or have him sit on an exercise ball. Some kids love to use anti-stress balls, sensory play dough or even marking time with a timer. Stephanie Deslauriers tells us that visual reminders and schedules that clearly explain the sequence of events can be very reassuring for these children as well.

Ritalin: The controversy

Ritalin, a drug typically used to treat children who suffer from ADHD, typically raises concerns with parents. Even some professionals like the Ministries of Education, recreation and sports, Health and Social services and Family and Seniors felt the need to address the issue by taking an official position because of the dramatic record increase of prescriptions for Ritalin in the past years (just from 1997 to 2003, the number of prescriptions for Ritalin has jumped 55, and has continued to grow since!).

The Ministries recommend avoiding over-prescribing Ritalin, taking into account that the use of this medication may be desirable in some cases. What does Stephanie Deslauriers think? According to her, “Medication can be useful when used in conjunction with psycho-social care. The medication will help the child to see more clearly, reduce his distress to that he can be mentally prepared to find ways to manage his difficulties long term.”

Hyperactivity in school

Many parents report that teachers seem to be pressuring them to get a prescription for Ritalin for their active kids. Even school psychologists feel the pressure to prescribe drugs without even having had the time to diagnose the child properly. Stephanie Deslauriers explains that this trend of overprescribing Ritalin actually reveals a sad reality that teachers have to face daily: “More and more children with disabilities are integrated in regular classrooms, but the teachers don’t receive any training or support to handle the extra workload. If the system doesn’t support them properly, they quickly feel overwhelmed and incompetent and will be more likely to recommend medicating the child due to a lack of resources and information.”

Image de Mariem Melainine

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